Fourteen August, by Norman Corwin, Performed by Orson Welles

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“Congratulations for being alive and listening on this night! … Millions didn’t make it.” – Norman Corwin’s opening line of Fourteen August: A Message for the Day of Victory, as read by Orson Welles on August, 14, 1945.

 

Fourteen August is an impassioned message for the 1945 day of victory in Japan written, directed, and produced by Norman Corwin and movingly read by Orson Welles. While hints of racism towards the Japanese in this broadcast can’t be ignored, we’ve got to remember the sentiment of the time. I’d like to think that since 1945 we’ve become, or are on our way to becoming, a much more open-minded society. As recent events tell us, we’re not there yet, but I maintain hope that we’re on our way. Remember we are all free because our minds allow us to be.

 

The power of this day is fading in the minds of many young Americans, but what should remain for all-time is the power of peace. We must also remember that this is a period piece of read literature. There is no disputing that Norwin Corwin was a fantastic writer of prose and Orson Welles was one of the most powerful orators of the twentieth century. Corwin was thirty-five at the time, and Welles was thirty.

 

If possible, try to put yourself in the mindset of someone on August 14, 1945 and remember that day was seventy-two years ago today. Life changed significantly after the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

 

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[Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt, courtesy of the Life Archives]